Every once in awhile there’s a name or two that pop up in my Facebook feed that makes me pause. Over the past couple of years there have been a few relationships that have faltered. I’m told that it’s all part of growing older and growing apart. If you ask my parents (especially my dad), getting married puts an end to all of that. I think he just didn’t bother maintaining most of his friendships past his glory days and thinks that’s normal. But for someone like me who has counted her close friends among family on more than one occasion, losing that bond is hard.
There comes a time when memories of the past become stronger than any desire to continue to make more in the future.
I’ve found myself at that crossroads in very few relationships over the years. I tend to keep the friends I have and add new ones along the way. Every so often, though, there’s one or two that sneak away from my inner circle…one or two that if I were to pick up an old journal or diary, I’d see their name on various pages and have that twinge of self-doubt as to whether I could have tried harder to make it last.
I’m not good at failure…this works double time in relationships. I tend to internalize all fault and can’t stop long enough to see things for what they are.
Over the past year I’ve had to let one friendship go in particular. It wasn’t anything acute, though there were indiscretions on either side. It just started occurring to me not too long ago that what I was emotionally investing in the continuing saga of this friendship wasn’t even close to what I was barely pulling in from it. It’s not that every relationship can be broken down economically. It’s just that at a certain point when your other friends and loved ones tell you that it’s not worth it anymore, you have to start to listen with a critical ear and guard yourself a little more closely.
I have a hard time going halfsies on anything. Yet I try to salvage what I can, knowing full well it never works. Somewhere deep inside of me, the stubbornness that makes it possible for me to accomplish things in my life is also the bane of my existence, keeping me in orbit around people who are dying stars in this particular universe. These people aren’t bad people. They havent always done me wrong in some major way. They just aren’t in the same orbit anymore. And I have a helluva time letting that go easily.
Recently, I saw a picture of this friend whose star left this orbit in the past year. We didn’t part on bad terms, but we didn’t exactly part on excellent terms either. The friend who now lives out of town was obviously in town and for a second I was upset that she didn’t call. This was one of those issues that led to the strain in our relationship initially. For that upset second, I consoled myself quietly with the knowledge that I was in no mood to see anyone or do anything strenuous or detailed. Small talk is strenuous to me. And as the imaginary burden fell from my shoulders, I realized that it was good that we moved on. Probably good for both of us. (Although the narcissist in me has a hard time admitting that my absence in someone’s life could be good for them.)
Despite life not being purely economical, it’s fruitless to continue to invest in a relationship when there’s clearly a breakdown in the exchange of ideas, emotions and support. But I’m my mother’s daughter and if that means anything, it means I keep trying long past the expiration date.
Moving on is hard for me. It involves many starts and stops. I think this is probably true for everyone. Despite best intentions, there are still those moments that catch you off guard…that catch you in the trap of the emotions that used to be shared between two people in a world that has since changed drastically. And sometimes seeing those people again gives you the sensation of setting foot in Jurassic Park–a glimpse of a world long since past, with all of the trappings of something different that you can’t quite put your finger on.
We all move on. Very few friendships are built to last our entire lives. Some people don’t keep their friends in as close of ranks as I try to. I often wonder if that makes life easier or harder on them. I love those people with whom I share a deep connection and to whom I do not have to retell every detail of my life. But when those relationships strain or break, it’s a heartache that is incomparable. I guess seeing pictures of those people on social media is the salt in the mostly healed wound of our time.
Even with the sting that it causes, I’ll take that over not trying any day of the week, though.